Word Records Founder Dies at 79

Christian music industry pioneer Jarrell McCracken died at the age of 79 in his Waco, Texas home this past Wednesday after a long battle with Alzheimer's disease.

McCracken is the founder of Christian music's Word Label Group, which he began as Word Inc. in 1951. Holding the position of president until 1986, McCracken helped Word Inc. grow into one of the world's largest Christian entertainment companies, which is now comprised of a label group, music publishing, distribution and church resource divisions.

An alumnus of Baylor University, McCracken was also considered as a visionary of his time for Christian youth culture and the music industry in general.

"McCracken realized what young people in the church wanted to listen to," Baylor professor of journalism Robert Darden told the university's newspaper.

"He was able to see things that could be," Lois Ferguson, McCracken's assistant at Word for several years, told the media. "That you and I couldn't even imagine."

Prominent figures associated with Word include musicians Amy Grant, Sandi Patti and George Beverly Shea; composers Kurt Kaiser and Ralph Carmichael; and authors Billy Graham and James Dobson.

McCracken's funeral was scheduled to be held on Nov. 10 at Seventh and James Baptist Church in Waco.

He is survived by his wife, Judy Murray McCracken, and two children